Friday, August 05, 2011

School's Cool

The LAS Building in Education City
I work for the Qatar Foundation in the Academic Bridge Program (ABP) on the Education City campus. Education City is really a megacampus that hosts a number of different educational facilities. The campus continues to expand as can be seen by the tremendous amount of construction going on around here, and visible projects include the nearly completed Qatar National Convention Centre and the Sidra Medical and Research Center.

As a result of Ramadan beginning last Monday, we have shortened work days, which is a nice way to jump into the culture here. The day starts at 8:30AM and ends at 1:30PM, and we will carry on with that schedule until the end of the month when Ramadan ends and we have a week-long Eid or holiday. I haven't started teaching yet, but there are many other things to take care of before students arrive. Over the past three days, for example, we have been administering placement tests to our students. Actual classes start on the fourteenth.

My Office
The ABP is located in the Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) building in Education City, and the staff includes teachers and administrators from countries such as Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, France, India, Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, The Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Sudan, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the United States. A free shuttle picks me up right outside our apartment, and, about ten minutes later, drops me off at the front entrance of the LAS building. It's very convenient. The ABP shares the building with the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.

In this region, among many other characteristics, the ABP is unique in that male and female students attend classes together, which is something that, up until this point in their lives, our students, predominantly Qatari nationals, have not previously experienced. As a result, in order for Qatari parents to allow their daughters to go to school with male students, all of the classrooms and offices had to have glass walls.

Here is a picture of my office. If you look closely, you can see a kind of geometric pattern on the window of my office, which mirrors the pattern on the outside of the building. The pattern is not actually on the window, however. It is an aluminum wall or curtain suspended from the ceiling, and appears throughout the interior of the LAS building. It almost looks like a veil. While difficult for someone new like me to get around, it makes for a striking panorama within the building.

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